The tie between local and global is a concept talked about widely these days—as the world becomes more connected, the opportunity to have impact from halfway across the world has become even greater. But few opportunities tie local and global so closely—and have as great an impact—as Woodbury’s Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) mobile pack event. This second annual event will take place October 4-7 at the HealthEast Sports Center, and has some ambitious goals: to raise $1.1 million and pack 5 million meals for underserved populations in developing countries.
Considering the success of the 2017 event, which resulted in more than 4 million meals and over $500,000 raised, these goals feel downright reasonable. There’s certainly enough energy around the event, something that returning co-chair Nikki Robbins attributes to the unique setup of the event. Typically, during the rest of the year, individuals and groups volunteer to visit FMSC locations and pack meals at the facility. This month’s mobile pack event allows thousands of volunteers to come together for four days and one common cause. “This event is maybe one of a kind in how the entire community comes together,” says Robbins. “This is all ages…sports teams, retirement centers, schools, and many other various groups. How many opportunities do you have for a 4-year-old and a senior citizen to work alongside each other with the same goal?”
FMSC mobile pack development advisor Dave Gunnlaugsson agrees that the Woodbury event is something special. “I have had the opportunity to work at FMSC for the past six and a half years and have shared the Woodbury story with a variety of people in large and small communities alike,” he says. “It truly feels like a full-on community event, because everyone is welcome and so many people from different places are involved.”
Returning co-chair Lisa Engh says raising awareness about hunger-related issues is a main goal of the event. “As much as we hope people learn about global hunger, it’s about local hunger, too. It’s in Minnesota and it’s here in Woodbury,” she says. Ten percent of earnings from the event are donated to Woodbury’s Christian Cupboard Food Shelf; last year $50,000 was donated and used to help kickstart construction of the food shelf’s new building, which opened last January.
There’s another important factor for the event's success: beyond doing good, it’s about having fun. “Attendees can expect music the entire time, and challenges throughout shifts that encourage friendly competition, like who can pack the most meals in five minutes,” explains Robbins. Themed shifts are new this year—because the event draws groups, similar groups will be invited to participate during the same hours. Examples include birthday parties, Woodbury business owners, or sports teams packing and competing against each other.
Though Woodbury residents are the lifeblood of the event, there’s been a strong push this year to invite participants from neighboring communities. Engh explains, “The event has always been a group effort with group ownership. At the end of it, it’s always about the power of the group together, so extending it to nearby communities just makes this event even more powerful and the impact even bigger.” She adds, “When people talk about this event, it’s interesting to hear their word choice. It’s a lot of ‘us,’ ‘we’ and ‘ours.’ It’s all about the coming together.”
Feed My Starving Children
5 Million Meals mobile pack event
HealthEast Sports Center